Ira J. Black
Ira J. Black, 74, passed away peacefully in his home on August 8, 2017. A native of Brooklyn, he was the oldest of two sons born to Emanuel and Rachel Black. After graduating from Brooklyn College, he returned to his own high school and taught English for several years. In the early 70s, he made the trek down to Houston, which would become his home.
An integral member of the Houston arts community for more than 40 years, Ira got his start as a classical music host on Houston's KLEF radio station. With an encyclopedic knowledge of fine arts and a great desire to share, for more than a decade he anchored several arts programs until the station switched formats in 1986.
Returning to his first vocation of teaching, he joined the faculty of Houston Community College Northwest, where he taught for more than 25 years. Thousands of students passed through his classes learning speech, theater, and interpersonal communications from a true authority.
Despite leaving radio, Ira never left the Houston arts scene, at various times acting; hosting the television program ArtWorks; and lecturing for the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Ballet, and Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Houston, among others. It was at G&S' The Gondoliers just weeks ago that he completed his final lectures while simultaneously introducing his granddaughter to her first opera.
An active participant at Congregation Beth Israel for many years, he was a presence at every religious event, study session, social gathering, and Friday evening service. A long time member of the worship committee, he also went out of his way to mentor new members to the congregation. He conducted and supported the lay-led Shabbat morning minyan there for more than a decade. Last year, he was honored to be chosen as the congregation's Volunteer of the Year.
Ira is survived by his younger brother Jerome; two sons Adam (Pamela) and Seth; and three grandchildren Lily Jeanne, Ethan, and Austin.
Services will be held at Beth Israel Memorial Garden on Friday, August 11th at 1:30 located at 1101 Antoine, Houston, TX 77055. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Musical Enhancement Fund of Congregation Beth Israel.
Published by Houston Chronicle on Aug. 10, 2017.